‘Excited and motivated’: Huskies set to host Dinos in CW women’s soccer playoff match

‘Excited and motivated’: Huskies set to host Dinos in CW women’s soccer playoff match

“We’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re super excited to play at home in front of our fans and give it go.”

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The good news is that the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s soccer team is hosting a playoff game.

The bad news is that the Huskies will have to play the University of Calgary Dinos, a U Sports national finalist in 2019, currently ranked No. 6 in Canada.

Scary, right?

Well, the U of S squad doesn’t quite see it that way.

The Huskies are merely pumped about getting a rare chance to host a playoff game and it just happens to be against the Dinos.

“I’m happy that they’re able to make them come to us rather than us go to them,” said fifth-year Huskies defender Kalli Cowles, whose team finished the regular season with a 7-2-3 record, first in the East Division while Calgary (9-2-1) was second in the Central Division behind Grant McEwen.

“Jerson (coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton) was saying it’s only the second time that we’ve hosted a first-round playoff. We’re definitely super excited about that.”

Game-time is 7 p.m. Friday at Griffiths Stadium in Nutrien Park.

“We’re excited and motivated,” said Barandica-Hamilton. “Obviously playing at home is something we relish and the girls have worked hard to be in this position and it doesn’t go unnoticed, so it just shows the evolution of our program. Calgary is a national finalist and a very senior group, but they’ve lost some games. It’s shown that, at this level, in this conference, anyone can beat anyone.

“So we’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re super excited to play at home in front of our fans and give it a go.”

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Huskies women’s soccer head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton instructs his team at Griffith’s Stadium. Photo taken in Saskatoon on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Huskies women’s soccer head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton instructs his team at Griffith’s Stadium. Photo taken in Saskatoon on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Calgary and Saskatchewan met in pre-season with the Dinos eking out a 2-1 win.

“We were winning up until the 80th minute on Day 4 (of training camp),” noted Barandica-Hamilton. “I think that’s a big confidence booster for our players. They were fresh while we played them on Day 4. We were winning, then hit a wall. The girls know that, when we play to our potential, there are very few teams in the conference who can beat us.”

Cowles is one of five fifth-years on the squad, joining goal-keeper Jadyn Steinhauer, midfielder Taneil Gay, forward Maya Gabruch and defender Hannah Zdunich-Costa.

“We’ve played Calgary in the playoffs, like, three years ago and it was a 2-1 game, too,” noted Cowles. “It’s definitely where the experience comes in: what to do in each situation.

“I’m really glad that we were able to play them in pre-season because it shows that we’re, like, right there with them and we know it’s going to be a hard-fought game either way and it’s going to be a close one, I think.”

dzary@postmedia.com

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